Experts Disagree on the Value of Agreeing to Disagree

Agreement within the ranks quickly squashed.

EGOTIATION EXPERTS, convening at the fifth annual "Art of Negotiation" conference in Sausalito, California this week, are busy hammering out a charter on the finer points of negotiating everything from political disputes to hostage standoffs. One area of disagreement appears to be the effectiveness of the strategy of agreeing to disagree.

Norm Phillips, President of the "Five Star Negotiators Club," believes that the "mutual position" implied in agreeing to disagree "allows both sides to feel they have a stake in the outcome. Therefore," said Mr. Phillips, "I always recommend that negotiators agree to disagree with their opponent. Otherwise, you've got the other guy suddenly disagreeing with you without prior agreement. Now he's got the upper hand and you're trying to agree with him after the fact, and that looks fake and wimpy."

However, Bud Siller, President of "Deluxe Negotiators," strongly disagreed.

"Well, I think agreeing with some schmuck holding his wife hostage is the ultimate in wimpiness," said Mr. Siller. "I think you've got to be clear with the guy, or the country, or whatever, that you do not agree, period. Then everyone knows where they stand, and you can get on with it."

Said Mr. Phillips, "Well, Bud, I think what you've got there on your hands is a dead wife. Let's just say we agree to disagree on this one, ok, buddy?"

"Don't call me buddy, you son of a bitch," replied Mr. Siller. "I'm not agreeing with you on anything, and that includes on disagreeing, cause I'm not some dumbass wimp, Mr. Five Star Wimp Club President Dumbass."

After the two negotiators were forcibly separated by fellow conferees and three personal-use tasers, conference chairwoman Natalie Gilbert commented on the status of the two gentlemen's positions vis a vis their energetic tussle.

"I would say that they've agreed not to disagree quite so disagreeably in future."